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By: Tim Donaldson

Hatfield-McCoy Trails – Buffalo Mountain

Hatfield-McCoy Trails – Buffalo Mountain
(Part of’s Feature Coverage of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails)

Are you a Redneck? Comedian, Jeff Foxworthy says that a Redneck is someone possessing a “glorious lack of sophistication.” Yet, the origins of the word are rooted in the historic events that transpired in the coal-mining community of Matewan, West Virginia. As exploitation of the local coal-mining labor forces escalated, Sid Hatfield–Police Chief of Matewan and sympathizer of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)–confronted and killed company-paid detectives that were hired to discourage coal miners from joining unionization efforts. The event became known as the Battle of Matewan and the Matewan Massacre. Shortly thereafter, Sid Hatfield was murdered in reprisal, and the crime went unpunished.

In the days following the murder, enraged coal miners gathered in reported strengths of 15,000 and began marching towards Logan County with intents to establish unions by force. The rallying miners tied red handkerchiefs around their necks to distinguish themselves from the opposing forces, resulting in the moniker–Rednecks. With the arrival of federal troops and after both sides had suffered many deaths and casualties, the Rednecks retreated to their homes. Called the Battle of Blair Mountain, the uprising was the largest, organized conflict in American labor history and eventually led to many of the labor laws that are in place today.

These events occurred in the communities that directly surround the Buffalo Mountain Trail System. Commonly known as being the most historic of all the Hatfield-McCoy Trail Systems, the Buffalo Mountain Trail System has three community connectors which situate ATV enthusiasts in the middle of this notable territory.  The towns of Williamson, Delbarton, and Matewan allow riders legal access to each community’s amenities. Whether looking for fuel, food, lodging, or just wishing to browse through a historic coal-mining district, OHVers will find everything they need and more. Once on the Buffalo Mountain Trail System, riders can easily spend the day journeying the trails from one community connector to another–exploring the history of each area.

The trails at Buffalo Mountain are also known for having the most single-track mileage at 12.5 miles. With 70 total trail miles available at Buffalo Mountain, that’s 18% available for two-wheeled riders. Rounding out the remainder of the trail breakdowns are 38.5 miles green (easiest), 9 miles blue (more difficult), 7.6 miles black (difficult), and 1.5 miles red/black (extreme difficult). While these trails do offer a high percentage of easy trails, there are plenty of challenges to test expert riders with the extreme difficult sections–especially some of the single-track segments.

The vistas at the Buffalo Mountain Trail System are quite remarkable. The topography of the trail system gives riders plenty of opportunities to sit perched on an overlook to admire the surrounding landscapes. It is amazing to note that, at one time, most of the area was mined and the residual effects are almost unrecognizable today. Aside from the small smoke billows that remain from still burning, underground coal-mining fires, Mother Nature has successfully replenished the foliage. The warmth from these fires can even be felt near the outlet shafts, as the fires have been burning for years and years. Bill Reed, Marketing Specialist for the Hatfield McCoy Trails, likes to say that Buffalo Mountain is the real “Burning Rock” of West Virginia.

As we have learned by exploring the Hatfield-McCoy Trail Systems, each has its own diverse and unique personality. ATV riding at Hatfield-McCoy’s Buffalo Mountain Trail system is truly a step back in time. While enthusiasts will love the challenges of the trails, just simply sitting on an adjacent hillside, looking over the city of Matewan, is like looking at a vintage post card from 90 years ago.  The people in the surrounding communities of the Buffalo Mountain Trail System are extremely friendly, welcoming, and knowledgeable of local history. It is humbling when considering the tumultuous and beleaguered past that has had such an impact on life and industry as we know it today in America.

Live a piece of history by visiting the Buffalo Mountain Trail System, and improve your sophistication by really knowing about Rednecks. You won’t be disappointed by the trails or scenery, ether. Don’t forget, a 2009 Hatfield-McCoy Trail Permit allows visitors the opportunity to go to each of the Hatfield-McCoy’s six trail systems, not just Buffalo Mountain. For 2009, Hatfield-McCoy Trail permits are $26.50 (WV residents) and $50.00 (non-WV residents) and are good for the entire year. Each trail system is located within easy driving distance from one another.

Stay tuned to, as we continue our in-depth coverage of the individual trail systems that make up the Hatfield-McCoy Trails! For more information about the Buffalo Mountain Trail System and the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, visit

Historic accounts referred to in this article were retrieved from (Battle of Blair Mountain. (2009, February 28). In Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.).

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